Friday, November 29, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #19: Teyan Page

Dear families and community,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with the loved ones. I had thoroughly enjoyed my day of cooking and eating with my future in-laws here in Houston. At this time, I would like to introduce our Assistant Principal, Mrs. Teyan Page, to you all this morning. Mrs. Page started this school year with a different last name- Ms. Heard, if you remember.  We all are trying to get used to calling her Mrs. Page at Spicewood these days. :)


Mrs. Page was born in Bryan, TX and was raised in Smithville where most of her extended family members still reside to this day. This is her second year working as an administrator at Spicewood ES. Before landing at Spicewood, she has taught 10 years in various grade levels- 4th, 7th and 8th grade. She also worked as an Academic Dean at Anderson Mill ES and a Compliance Coordinator at Meridian Charter School. Mrs. Page just recently married her husband this past October in Smithville. Mr. Page is a recruiter for the U.S. Army. Her daughter is one of our very own here at Spicewood. On Fridays- college days- many of you may have seen me all decked out in UT Longhorn gears while Mrs. Page is fully decked out in Texas A&M Aggies gears. 5 out of her 6 siblings all attended and graduated from Texas A&M and are hardcore Aggies, Mrs. Page shared. There will always be a silent battle in the front office area every Friday between the two of us. :) Hook'em! Mrs. Page's favorite food is pizza. Her favorite color is green. Her favorite book is the Gift Giver by Jennifer Hawkins.

"I really like the positive atmosphere and the commitment students show to learning and to contributing to their community. It's the diversity that makes Spicewood such a great place to be," shared Mrs. Page.

She'd like to tell our students to "Never stop learning. Work hard, play hard and love yourself!"

Mrs. Page is someone that I can count on; she takes care of most of the discipline, 504 meetings, district and state testing and many more day-to-day operational tasks each and every day. Without her support, I wouldn't be able to do what I do at Spicewood. Big thanks to Mrs. Page!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #18: Jerry Ortiz


Dear my blog readers, 

First and foremost, HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! Before the day gets carried away with cooking and eating, I wanted to take some time to introduce one of our 5th grade teachers to you, Mr. Gerardo (aka Jerry) Ortiz


Mr. Ortiz was born in Laredo, Texas and moved to Austin with his parents as a young boy. This is his 9th year teaching at Spicewood and 18th year in Round Rock ISD! Before he started working for the district, he has experiences in working as a house parent, a coach and behavior manager at Texas School for the Deaf and a self-employed sign language interpreter in Houston for 5 years. Mr. Ortiz and his wife, Jerilee, have a daughter and a son together. Their daughter, Julia, is a senior at Texas State University. His Son, Jeremy, just returned from a two-week missionary trip in Tanzania Africa. Mr. Ortiz's favorite food is molé, Chinese food and shrimp. He likes any color that is blue-ish. His favorite books are Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls and Cat In the Hat by Dr. Seuss.

Mr. Ortiz's favorite thing about working at Spicewood is the kids and parents. "We are lucky to have fabulous people who are so open-minded and so hard working. I love the diversity," shared Mr. Ortiz. When asked to comment on what makes Spicewood such a great place, he proceeded and stated, "since I've been here, we have been student centered first. We all care."  He would like to challenge our students to "stay in truth and love life."

Mr. Ortiz is exceptional in presenting the content knowledge to our students in such a manner that our students can make connections to their own community (their class) and lives. I've joined his class several times at their request to "mediate" when students had petitioned against an Act that Mr. Ortiz has imposed on them. I've witnessed rich discussions that thrived within as they made connections to how American people might have felt in 1765 when British Parliament imposed a direct tax to pay for the British troops stationed in North America at the time. This past Monday, I was invited to join Mr. Ortiz's class again. This time Mr. Ortiz shared with me that, after learning about many different aspects of government, students generated and voted on important positions to run the class fairly with integrity and justice; he asked me to do the honor of swearing in those students into their official positions- president, vice president, queen, speaker of the house, judge, CSI/FBI director, etc.



The Queen knighted the officials in at the end of the ceremony. 
Mr. Ortiz has established and implemented such a creative and student-run learning environment. It is evident that students feel the ownership of how the class is run and of their own learning. It is always an honor to partake in his class learning activity as a principal. I love, love, love it!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Updates from the Principal- Celebrations Included

Dear families and community, 

Greetings! I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving! We have a short week this week with only 2 days in school.  Stay warm and safe!

Celebrations from Last Week


5th Grade Musical Performance: Dogs vs. Cats vs. Us
Thanks to all the parents and community members that came out to share our musical moment with our 5th graders last Tuesday evening! I'd like to thank Mr. Steinburg who wrote the entire musical to make this event possible. Thanks to Mrs. Power, our other music teacher and all of the 5th grade teachers who spent many hours with our 5th graders encouraging them to do their best. Students did an amazing job! I recorded my favorite song from the musical- Let's Just Make a Mess, of course, written and composed by Mr. Steinburg. Please enjoy a short 2.5-minute long video clip from the performance. 

Roots and Shoots
Mrs. Jacbos (2nd Grade teacher) and Ms. Williams (4th Grade teacher) led a small group of students who are part of the Roots and Shoots club to Shoal Creek at the Northwest Park in Austin to conduct a clean-up on Saturday, November 16. The club has adopted a part of the creek to head up the clean-up four times a year. If your child is interested in joining the club, please have them speak to Mrs. Jacobs or Ms. Williams in school. We're so proud of the work that our students and teachers are doing to help our community. 


Thank you for your exemplary behaviors in supporting the community! We're so proud of you! 

This Week's News

Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Please check my blog during the Thanksgiving break; there will be two employees featured. 

Atrium Needs Support!- A Plant Specialist In Need
We’re looking for someone with extensive plant knowledge and experience who would be willing to donate their time to design some educational plantings for the Spicewood atrium.  This is part of the atrium refurbishing that was approved by the PTA so we do have a budget to work with.  Please email Lana@TopNotchRenovations by November 30 if you’re interested.

Picture Retake Day
We'll have a Picture Retake Day on Wednesday, December 4. Any students that wish to retake their school picture may do so on this day. 



MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29
Thanksgiving Holiday
School is closed for students and staff. 

Wednesday, December 4
12:45 PM   Early Release

Picture Retake Day
Students will be dismissed at 12:45PM. Please plan accordingly. 

Thursday, December 12
5:00-8:00 PM  Spirit Night @ Moonie's Burger House- Hosted by PTA
Please come out and join us for dinner at Moonie's Burger House. Our 4th grade teachers, Mrs. Page and Mrs. Reeb will be there part of the night along with PTA representatives. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Updates from the Principal- Celebrations from Last Week Included!

Dear families and community, 

I'm so very excited to start the newsletter with lots and lots of celebrations from last week. I am once again reminded of how lucky Spicewood is to have such constant support from parents and community members. 

Thank you for all that you do from the bottom of my heart. 


Celebrations from Last Week


Veterans Day Assembly
 Second grade celebrated Veteran's Day with an assembly in the library last Monday.  Second graders were treated to a glimpse of a wide variety of mementos from all branches of the service.  The second grade teachers shared their personal connections to Veteran's Day with the students.  Lt. Col. Coplen spoke to the students about the sacrifices made by his family while he was serving overseas. Students are taking action by creating cards.  These cards will be sent to members of the military via the Red Cross and will be distributed during the holiday season. 
Second Graders honoring the veteran in presence

Annual Silent Auction
Spicewood community had an amazing night of Silent Auction this past Friday at Balcones Country Club. A number of parents, staff and community members came out, enjoyed good people and good food, won lots of goodies and raised a significant amount of money for our children at Spicewood. Preliminary number for auction income are over 65K! 

I want to recognize specific individuals that have made this event possible. 

Sandy Parent & Robyn Steinhauser - Auction Co-Chairs 
Solicitations - Sandy Parent, along with her amazing team, were responsible for bringing in over 700 items!
Item QA & Processing -  Kirsty Pilon spent countless hours in the auction database, processing the 700 items mentioned above.
Merchandise Display - Tracy Defendorf worked to creatively display the auction items.
Decorations Chair - Kandie Crider and her team transformed the club into a magical setting, transporting us back to the "Roaring 20's"
Lori Poppe - Managed the "back-end" processes of the evening, as well as the post event audit and distribution of winnings.

And last, but not least, Chris Mitchell, the event emcee and Jimbo Cotton, auctioneer.  Their enthusiasm for the event is contagious!  They encourage our Spicewood Community to bid with enthusiasm, and make the event a joy for all who attend! 

We have many more parents who have volunteered their time; please visit our PTA website for further recognition.
Please enjoy the pictures below from the exciting night of fun! 






Chess Tournament
This past Saturday, Spicewood Chess Club hosted a Chess Tournament with many children from around the area. Many thanks to parent volunteers that have made this possible; we had 60 parent volunteers that came out and helped! I want to recognize Mr. McMullen who headed up and organized the event to provide a great learning opportunity for our students and others.
Spicewood team finished as below out of trophy contention in K-12:
1st in Parent/Child
1st in K-5/6
2nd in K-1
2nd in K-3 

CONGRATULATIONS! We're so proud of you! 

This Week's News

Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Ms. Jo Williams (4th Grade Teacher) & Mrs. Della Robinson (5th Grade Teacher)

Disabled Parking Spots in the Front

There are 2 disabled parking spots in the front of the school. These parking spots are only for visitors and parents with a handicap parking permit. I understand that it is hectic during drop-off/pick-up and it is easy to pull up our cars for a few minutes; however, I ask that everyone be respectful to those who are in need of the services by not using those two disabled parking spots at all times

Pick-Up by Bike Racks
Parents, if you're asking your child(ren) to meet you by the bike rack, please make sure students are supervised at all times. We're concerned that students are now climbing the trees and being unsafe. Ms. Martinez will continue to supervise the area but we need your help as well.

Atrium Needs Support!- A Plant Specialist In Need

We’re looking for someone with extensive plant knowledge and experience who would be willing to donate their time to design some educational plantings for the Spicewood atrium.  This is part of the atrium refurbishing that was approved by the PTA so we do have a budget to work with.  Please email Lana@TopNotchRenovations by November 30 if you’re interested.

Teaching Thinking Skills- Numberless Problems

Parents, I want to share a shift in instructional paradigm in mathematics that our district has trained our staff on. In the past, we as educators taught our students to find key words and key numbers in word problems as the first step to take, which inevitably encouraged our learners to focus on the numbers and simple operations in the problems. Now we're focusing on thinking and processing skills along with the key words. An example of a numberless math problem is as followed: Maricella bought some tickets at a carnival. She kept some for herself. She gave the same amount to each of her sisters. How many tickets did each sister get? Students are asked to ponder the information given without the numbers and describe relationships presented in the problem such as, "we need to know how many Maricella bought." Then teacher introduces some numbers within the problem as followed:  Maricella bought 75 tickets at the carnival. She kept some and she gave the same amount to each of her two sisters. Our students will process and think about missing information and what operations we will need to use. You might hear students making observations such as "We can't find out how many sisters received without knowing how many she kept for herself, etc" Then teacher reveals the rest of the problem: Maricella bought 75 tickets at the carnival. She kept 35 tickets for herself. Her two sisters equally shared the rest. How many tickets does each sister get? Numberless problems challenge our learners to focus on thinking and processing rather than simple algorithm. 

5th Grade Musical Performance: Dogs vs. Cats vs. Us

The 5th graders will perform a brand new original musical; Dogs Versus Cats Versus Us on Tuesday, November 19th at 6:30PM.  You are invited to this premiere event in our cafeteria.  Please make plans to attend and support all their hard work. This performance will be approximately 30-40 minutes long. 

Picture Retake Day
We'll have a Picture Retake Day on Wednesday, December 4. Any students that wish to retake their school picture may do so on this day. 



MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Tuesday, November 19
6:30-7:00 PM   5th Grade Choir Concert
Please join us in the cafeteria as our 5th grade will perform an awesome musical to families and community. 

Thursday, November 21
5:30-8:30PM A Night of Pastabilities- Westwood HS Silent Auction
Westwood HS Class of 2015 would like to cordinally invite the community to "A Night of Pastabilities." It is a spaghetti dinner and silent auction to help fund the Westwood Jr/Sr Prom. For more information, please visit Westwood HS website

Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29
Thanksgiving Holiday
School is closed for students and staff. 

Wednesday, December 4
12:45 PM   Early Release

Picture Retake Day
Students will be dismissed at 12:45PM. Please plan accordingly. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #17: Della Robinson

Dear families and community members,

Here comes our second employee of the week that I'd like to introduce to you. Please meet Mrs. Della Robinson, one of our fabulous fifth grade teacher.

Mrs. Robinson was born in Norfolk, Nebraska. She attended the University of Texas-Austin then moved back here after 10 years in Washington D.C. because she and her husband- a manager at National Oilwell Varco- wanted to raise their family in Austin. Mrs. Robinson's career history is quite unusually fascinating. Before finding her way to teaching, she spent many years in politics. From 1988-1990, she worked for Phil Gramm, a US Senator. From 1990-1994, She worked for the Bush administration. She then worked as a lobbyist from 1994-1998. She decided to devote her time to raise her beautiful children- Drew (15) and Dylan (11)- for 12 years. Both of her sons play tackle football and the entire family just loves all sports! In 2010, after a long and rich journey, she landed at Spicewood as a 5th grade teacher. Mrs. Robinson's favorite food is lobster. Her favorite color is burnt orange (hook'em!). She has too many books she loves; one of her greatest reading pleasures is the morning newspaper with a cup of coffee. 

Her favorite thing about working at Spicewood is the people- her team, the staff, our great parents and students. She feels that Spicewood is so welcoming and carries such an inclusive culture. 

Mrs. Robinson would like to tell our students to dream big! Chase your dreams but lead with your gifts!

When I visited her classroom this past week, Mrs. Robinson was in action with our students, discussing about patterns, graphing and data analysis. Students were given two different choices of making $1000 and analyze which scenario was a better and faster choice with a written justification. Students were then asked to utilize line graphs to represent the process on grid papers. Then students were introduced to formulas and graphing in MS Excel to make the connection between learning of a new concept and a day-to-day tool they can use for efficiency and accuracy. 

Students were pondering upon these essential questions throughout their learning activities and discussions.


Thinking and Inquiry in Action

Students graphing on paper first then using MS Excel 
Mrs. Robinson's background experiences and knowledge bring rich conversations and higher order thinking questions into the classroom where our students are allowed to expand their horizons. Her enthusiasm resonates throughout the day and it makes our students get excited about their learning!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #16: Jo Williams

Dear my wonderful blog audience,

It's time to meet one of the two employees of the week! I really told myself I were to feature this post today before heading home from work today. Here it goes! :)

Please take a few minutes to meet our fabulous 4th grade teacher, Ms. Jo Williams.


Ms. Williams was born in Odessa, TX and lived in various cities in Texas until she landed in Austin at Spicewood 9 years ago. Ms. Williams has always wanted to live in Austin since the 1970's- I mean, who wouldn't, right? It's such an awesome city. Well, prior to joining the Panther family here, she taught 17 years in Fort Worth ISD, 2 years in White Settlement- just a little west of Fort Worth, and spent 8 years working with developmentally disabled adults. What a journey full of rich experiences in education! My funny story with Ms. Williams goes like this. This past May, when I first came around to visit the school and be introduced to staff members, I saw Ms. Williams and stared at her for a bit then said, "have we met before? We have met before. I know we have!" She looked at me and said, "um..... I have a face that people tend to think they've met me before?????" then shrugged. But I just knew! I just knew that I've met her somewhere before so I kept insisting we met before. Then I went on to greet some parents and other teachers then a light-bulb went on inside my head! I made my way back to Ms. Williams and shouted, "Texas Regional Science Collaborative!" It's an intense science professional development opportunity that teachers in the greater Austin area come together and complete over multiple days throughout the school year. Ms. Williams put on a big smile finally (yes, I guess I was fairly creepy up to that point since I kept insisting I've met her before without solid evidence) and said, "YES!!!!" So I have to say a strong NO to her statement about having a face people tend to think they've met her before. :) Anyhow, going on with introducing her- Ms. Williams has a niece that lives in Austin and she is her joy! She has tons and tons of pictures of her cute little niece on her phone. :) Fun facts about Ms. Williams are 1) she's ran a bakery in the past; 2) she's worked in bookstores off and on throughout the years; and 3) she's just super smart (It's my opinion, I understand, but I think everyone here will agree with me on this one). Her favorite food is Mexican food. Her favorite color is orange. She also has too many books and authors she likes just like Ms. Dielmann from the previous post. She suggests any books written by Chaim Potok, Barbara Kinsolver, David McCullough and Philip K. Dick. 

She loves working at Spicewood because she believes it's a great community- more like a family. She believes there are no weak teachers, which makes Spicewood a great place to be!

She would like to advise our students to learn for the love of learning and try to do some good while they're at it. 

Under the Unit of Inquiry- Where We Are in Place and Time, our 4th grade students have been learning about and making connections to Native American Tribes. In the course of a few weeks, students explored and learned about different tribes, locations, life needs, survival path and much more. Students were given the opportunity to work in collaborative groups to research, collect data and truly become experts of one of the tribes. Students spent much time and effort creating an exhibit that explains everything about their tribe. I was invited to visit their museum last Friday and it was just mind-blowing, listening to our students articulate and explain about all the knowledge and understanding they gained about their tribe. Not only were they articulate in their speeches but the artifacts students created and produced were simply amazing! Ms. Williams set very clear and high expectations by creating a rubric that informed students ahead of time. She went around to every exhibit to assess their learning via presentation and discussions. I was so honored and glad to have had the opportunity to visit the museum before it closed! :) (It was taken down Friday afternoon)

Our experts at each exhibit

Ms. Williams asking various questions to check student learning

What a creative and innovative way to assess our students and their learning!
Our 4th grade students are lucky to have a teacher who is not afraid to let students take control of their own learning in creative and innovative ways. To think back, the reason why I remember Ms. Williams after 9 years have passed is because she had such intriguing questions to enrich our discussions and an open-minded perspective at the training we attended together; she made such an impression on me and she still is continuing to do so! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Updates from the Principal- Celebrations Included

Dear families and community, 

In honor of Veterans Day, I would like to thank all who have served and dedicated their lives to protecting our country- past, present and future. Without you, we wouldn't be here. 

I understand this is a very busy time of the year but I look forward to seeing each and every one of you at our annual Silent Auction this Friday at Balcones Country Club. If you have not purchased a ticket, it'll be available at the door. Please come join us! 

We had a very busy week at Spicewood last week and I am excited to share with you great celebrations as well as this week's news. Thank you for your time and support! 


Celebrations from Last Week

Principal Today
The district has provided an opportunity for community members to experience the day at school as a Principal last Thursday. Our special guest, Mrs. Edina Morrison, is a founder of Texas Spanish Academy in Round Rock; she also has 9 years of experience in public education prior to opening the academy. Mrs. Morrison spent the morning at Spicewood walking through the halls, reading aloud books to children in classrooms and joining teachers on learning walkthroughs. It was delightful to host her as a guest. 
Mrs. Morrison visited classrooms to spend time with children. 
Mrs. Morrison with our 4th Grade Team
Thank you for volunteering your time!


PROS from Westwood HS

I wanted to take a moment to recognize and thank our PROS from Westwood HS. They come out to Spicewood ES twice a week, volunteering their precious time to meet with different students to mentor. I've witnessed them in action with students and it's truly a blessing to see Spicewood students loving the time they spend reading with them, talking about their day and discussing their learning with them. Kudos to the PROS! We appreciate you! 
Our awesome PROS! Thanks a million!


5th Grade- Outdoor School

Our 5th grade students completed the Outdoor School curriculum successfully last week. I was able to pay a surprise visit on Thursday and it was simply amazing to see our students so engaged in many different learning activities. For more pictures, please visit Mrs. Mitchell's Picture Gallery.
Fully engaged

Students learning via various activities- look how high the rock climbing wall is!

This Week's News

Meet the Faces of Spicewood

Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Kimberly Teal (Spanish Teacher) & Jackie Dielmann (TAG Teacher)

Teaching Thinking Skills- Numberless Problems
Parents, I want to share a shift in instructional paradigm in mathematics that our district has trained our staff on. In the past, we as educators taught our students to find key words and key numbers in word problems as the first step to take, which inevitably encouraged our learners to focus on the numbers and simple operations in the problems. Now we're focusing on thinking and processing skills along with the key words. An example of a numberless math problem is as followed: Maricella bought some tickets at a carnival. She kept some for herself. She gave the same amount to each of her sisters. How many tickets did each sister get? Students are asked to ponder the information given without the numbers and describe relationships presented in the problem such as, "we need to know how many Maricella bought." Then teacher introduces some numbers within the problem as followed:  Maricella bought 75 tickets at the carnival. She kept some and she gave the same amount to each of her two sisters. Our students will process and think about missing information and what operations we will need to use. You might hear students making observations such as "We can't find out how many sisters received without knowing how many she kept for herself, etc" Then teacher reveals the rest of the problem: Maricella bought 75 tickets at the carnival. She kept 35 tickets for herself. Her two sisters equally shared the rest. How many tickets does each sister get? Numberless problems challenge our learners to focus on thinking and processing rather than simple algorithms. 

Shoes with Shoelaces

Development of gross and fine motor skills in early childhood is critical in flourishing the child as a whole. Tying shoelaces is one of the ways that parents and teachers can help enhance such skills for our students in primary grade levels (K-2nd). It is certainly more convenient for us to put velcro shoes on our youngsters but would be much more beneficial to teach our children how to tie shoelaces to advance in their development. 

Math Program Parent Info. Night at Canyon Vista

Join Canyon Vista for the PTA Meeting and Math Night Program. There will be a short PTA meeting and then Canyon Vista's math department will discuss the new math Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the math continuum from Canyon Vista through Westwood. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm in the cafeteria. This is a great opportunity for our 5th grade parents to attend and be informed about the math program at Canyon Vista. It's open to all parents at Spicewood ES. 

TAG Information Night

Our informational meeting about TAG referral is taking place this Thursday, November 14 at 6:30 in the library. This is for parents who want information as to what our program offers, what to look for in their student regarding giftedness, and the referral process.


WatchDOGS Friday!
Dads and father figures! This Friday, November 15 is a WatchDOGS Friday! Please sign up online here and come join us! 


Chess Club Store
Chess Club Store will open again on Friday, November 15. Students can use the chess bucks they have collected so far to purchase items of their choice. Chess Club is still accepting donations in forms of cash/checks, age-appropriate toys, books, puzzles, DVDs and other items in good condition. If you'd like to contribute, please contact Anu Srinivasa at anu_srinivasa@yahoo.com.

Spicewood Annual Silent Auction
Please mark your calendar for our annual Silent Auction! It'll take place on Friday, November 15 at Balcones Country Club. This year's theme is "Roaring Back to the '20s." The auction raises significant funds for many programs at our school- field trips, cultural arts/enrichment, IB PYP program, technology purchases, classroom supplies and teacher training- just to name a few! Tickets are on sale for $20/person. For more information, please visit our PTA website.

5th Annual Spicewood Chess Tournament 
The tournament will take place on Saturday, November 16 and is projected to be one of the largest scholastic tournaments of the year. If your child is planning to attend, please register as soon as possible; regular registration will end this Wednesday, November 13. Depending on turnout, spaces may be limited. This year's tournament is open to all elementary students. There will be a special section for kinder/1st graders- http://www.austinchesstournaments.com/events/511. Only requirement for beginner students is that they must know how to checkmate. For more information, please visit our website

Spicewood Chess Tournament Volunteers
Volunteers are still need for this Saturday so please sign up here


MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Friday, November 1 - Friday, Novembem 15
Round Rock Fall 2013 Annual Canned Food Drive
Please help our local food pantry by donating canned & non-perishable food. You can send the canned goods to school with your child(ren) starting on Friday, November 1. For more information, please view the official flyer

Thursday, November 14

6:30   TAG Info. Night
Please join us in the library.

Friday, November 15
6:00-11:00PM   Spicewood Annual Silent Auction 
At Balcones Country Club

Saturday, November 16
9:00AM-5:30PM   5th Annual Spicewood Chess Tournament 

Tuesday, November 19
6:30-7:00 PM   5th Grade Choir Concert
Please join us in the cafeteria as our 5th grade will perform an awesome concert to families and community. 

Thursday, November 21
5:30-8:30PM A Night of Pastabilities- Westwood HS Silent Auction
Westwood HS Class of 2015 would like to cordinally invite the community to "A Night of Pastabilities." It is a spaghetti dinner and silent auction to help fund the Westwood Jr/Sr Prom. For more information, please visit Westwood HS website

Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29
Thanksgiving Holiday
School is closed for students and staff. 

Wednesday, December 4
12:45 PM   Early Release
Students will be dismissed at 12:45PM. Please plan accordingly. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #15: Jackie Dielmann

Good afternoon, my blog readers :)

I'm thrilled to feature the second employee of the week, Mrs. Jackie Dielmann, one of our fabulous TAG teachers. 


Mrs. Dielmann was born in Cleveland, Ohio. (Burrrrr... I once lived in Dayton, Ohio and there was no such thing as a snow day unless it was past your roof.) Mrs. Dielmann and her husband have 3 sons together: the youngest is attending Westwood HS down the street from us and 2 eldest sons were college swimmers. Her youngest son is also one of our PROS that volunteer twice a week to come out and meet with a mentee student. (He will be in the picture that I'll send out next Monday as a part of our celebrations) She also has a sister that is an editor of a theater magazine in Los Angeles, CA! Mrs. Dielmann, before finding her way to teaching, used to be a civil engineer for 10 years!! She received an engineering degree at Purdue University- wow. Once she found her true passion, she eased into the teaching career by substituting for a few years then becoming a full-time teacher; she taught reading, special education, 1st grade, 2nd grade and now Talented And Gifted (TAG). This will be her 12th year at Spicewood ES. Her favorite food is ice cream. Her favorite color is poppy. When asked to list her favorite book, she said she could not list just one due to loving a number of books she's read. :) 

Mrs. Dielmann feels blessed to have such a wonderful, hardworking and kind staff to work with as well as the supportive community. She also shared that everyone has the same goal, which is to help children succeed and do their best. The entire staff works as one team for our children.

Mrs. Dielmann commends our children to look at learning as an adventure and not a chore- we learn our whole lives!

I went and witnessed some awesome learning happening, guided by Mrs. Dielmann this past Tuesday. Mrs. Dielmann projected several photos of Disneyland from a bird's eye view then honed into a parking garage. There were a number of open-ended questions she asked in order to activate prior knowledge then she asked students how many cars would be able to park in the parking garage by looking at the bird's eye view photo of it. Students were eager to use and share different strategies to solve the problem. When students thought they were about done, Mrs. Dielmann took it further and projected another photo that showed multi-levels of the parking garage. It was quite captivating to see how our students responded and problem solved in a variety of ways. 
High level thinking and learning occurring as Mrs. Dielmann guides their thinking

Various ways students were allowed to problem solve

Mrs. Dielamann allows opportunities for students to share their ideas and problem solving strategies
Mrs. Dielmann was rocking and rolling throughout the entire time of her instruction by asking questions, checking understanding, reinforcing skills beyond academics, providing such constructive feedback in the moment, and making connections that were relevant to our students and their lives. Our students are surely blessed to have such a teacher with a great wealth of knowledge, who can challenge and guide their thinking and learning with rigor.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meet the Faces of Spicewood #14: Kimberly Teal

Dear Families and Community Members,

I'd like to introduce to you, Mrs. Kimberly Teal, our Spanish teacher.

Mrs. Teal was born in Carthage, TX, nestled deep in the piney woods of East Texas. Mrs. Teal moved to Austin in 2003 from the New Orleans area when her husband was offered to pastor a church in Northwest Austin. Mrs. Teal has five members in her family that are all super funny in their own ways; it sometimes makes her feel like she lives with a bunch of comedians. :) She has been teaching since 1986; she's taught high school Spanish for 3 years, bilingual 3rd grade for 3 years, kindergarten for one year, 1st grade for one year and elementary Spanish for 10 years. This is Mrs. Teal's 10th year here at Spicewood! A fun fact about Mrs. Teal is that, in high school and college, she worked as a computer operator, a telephone operator and at Wendy's! When asked to pick her favorite food, she couldn't pick just one! She listed coffee, okra, fried catfish, guacamole, and warm gooey desserts as her favorite foods. :) Her favorite color is inevitably teal and her favorite book is the Bible and anything written by Francine Rivers.

Her favorite thing about working at Spicewood is all the support and genuine care she feels from the parents and the staff. She further stated, "we are like a family! I also love how great the kids are- so eager to learn and to make a difference." Mrs. Teal believes that teachers, who teach because they love it and truly care about the kids, make Spicewood a great place to be for all stakeholders.

"You don't have to wait till tomorrow to make a new beginning. Every moment is an opportunity to start again. Even though we can't always change our circumstances, we can change how we respond to them," shares Mrs. Teal with our students.

At the beginning of the school year, I asked every staff what their career aspirations were. Mrs. Teal's response was to be the most awesome Spanish teacher ever!  Her passion and aspiration to be the best Spanish teacher truly transpire through her teaching practices each and every day. When you see her in action with students, it shows how much thought and effort she has put forth in order to provide meaningful learning experiences to all of our students.

Mrs. Bell's 4th graders participating in Spanish class, learning about infinitivos (infinitives)

Mrs. Teal incorporates various ways to engage our students 

Many reference tools displayed around the room are utilized throughout the lesson by students and teacher
Mrs. Teal's lessons are always so very interactive and engaging that there's not a single minute to be wasted by our students. We're truly lucky to have her as our one and only Spanish teacher here at Spicewood!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Updates from the Principal- Celebrations from Last Week Included

Dear families and community, 

I hope all families had an opportunity to have a student-led conference this past week. It was wonderful watching students participating in setting their own learning goals and sharing them with people in their lives. It is so powerful to see our students taking an active role in their education here at Spicewood.

We have lots of things to celebrate as well as important news to share. Thank you for taking your time to read my update! 


Celebrations from Last Week



Coins for Coats
Spicewood raised over $1,000 during our Coins for Coats drive. This is a huge accomplishment to celebrate as a community; we're exemplifying our mission statement by showing our deep caring and contributing to the world around us. 
Tracking board Mrs. Reeb created has been displayed in the cafeteria throughout the duration of the drive.

Author's Visit last Friday- Lucas Miller
Our students had a great time with the famous children's book author, Lucas Miller. He not only connected their learning to his books but also incorporated singing and some fun! Thanks to our librarian, Mrs. Reeb, for coordinating the event. 
Lucas Miller in action

WatchDOGS Friday
Once again, we loved seeing all of our dad volunteers throughout the school building last Friday! They were in classrooms reading books aloud, in the library shelving books, in the workroom cutting laminated papers, in the science lab helping out with an experiment and in the gym helping out PE teachers! 
WatchDOGS Volunteers were everywhere

This Week's News

Meet the Faces of Spicewood
Please be sure to take a moment to meet our wonderful staff: Hernan Benitez (Lead Custodian) & Pei-Chen Chang (Cafeteria Manager)

Tardy Phone Calls
All parents of students with 9+ tardies from last 9-week learning period have received a personal phone call from me last week. I am committing to making personal tardy phone calls after each 9-week learning period. Please know that I care and our teachers care about our children and their learning! 

Shoes with Shoelaces
Development of gross and fine motor skills in early childhood is critical in flourishing the child as a whole. Tying shoelaces is one of the ways that parents and teachers can help enhance such skills for our students in primary grade levels (K-2nd). It is certainly more convenient for us to put velcro shoes on our youngsters but would be much more beneficial to teach our children how to tie shoelaces to advance in their development. 

Analog Clocks at Home
Parents, once again, please support us in reinforcing the essential skills of reading an analog clock and processing elapsed time that students are learning at school by having an analog clock available and displayed at home. Daily discussion at home will boost our student learning at school!

Art To Remember Fundraiser- Message from Art Teachers
Order forms for this years ART fundraiser Art To Remember went home last week in your child's Friday folder.  Art to Remember offers over twenty products with your child's showcasing your child's artwork!  NEW THIS YEAR iPhone 4, 4s and 5 cases! Orders will be delivered before the Winter Break and make wonderful gifts!

This fundraiser raises over half of our yearly budget for art and allows us to do projects like the second grade recycled masks, glass fusing projects and extra clay projects as well!  Order forms are due back to by the end of the day Wednesday Nov.6th! THANKS FOR SUPPORTING ART AT SPICEWOOD!


Report Cards
Parents, you will receive your child(ren)'s first 9-week report card(s) via their Friday folder this Friday, November 8. With student report cards, we will be including the School Report Card issued by the state of Texas, informing parents of Spicewood performance as well. 


5th Grade Field Trip to the Outdoor School 
Our entire 5th grade will be taking a trip down to Camp Champions in Marble Falls, TX to the Outdoor School from Wednesday, November 6 through Friday, November 8. For more information, please visit Mrs. Morley's website.

Chess Club Store
Chess Club Store will open on Friday, November 8 and the following Friday, November 15. Students can use the chess bucks they have collected so far to purchase items of their choice. Chess Club is still accepting donations in forms of cash/checks, age-appropriate toys, books, puzzles, DVDs and other items in good condition. If you'd like to contribute, please contact Anu Srinivasa at anu_srinivasa@yahoo.com.

Spicewood Annual Silent Auction
Please mark your calendar for our annual Silent Auction! It'll take place on Friday, November 15 at Balcones Country Club. This year's theme is "Roaring Back to the '20s." The auction raises significant funds for many programs at our school- field trips, cultural arts/enrichment, IB PYP program, technology purchases, classroom supplies and teacher training- just to name a few! Tickets are on sale for $20/person. For more information, please visit our PTA website.

5th Annual Spicewood Chess Tournament 
The tournament will take place on Saturday, November 16 and is projected to be one of the largest scholastic tournaments of the year. If your child is planning to attend, please register as soon as possible. Depending on turnout, spaces may be limited. This year's tournament is open to all elementary students. There will be a special section for kinder/1st graders. Only requirement for beginner students is that they must know how to checkmate. For more information, please visit our website


MARK YOUR CALENDAR!


Friday, November 1 - Friday, Novembem 15
Round Rock Fall 2013 Annual Canned Food Drive
Please help our local food pantry by donating canned & non-perishable food. You can send the canned goods to school with your child(ren) starting on Friday, November 1. For more information, please view the official flyer

Wednesday, November 6- Friday, November 8
5th Grade Field Trip to the Outdoor School 
Our entire 5th grade will be taking a trip down to Camp Champions in Marble Falls, TX to the Outdoor School. For more information, please visit Mrs. Morley's website.

Friday, November 8
Report Cards Go Home

Friday, November 15
6:00-11:00PM   Spicewood Annual Silent Auction 
At Balcones Country Club

Saturday, November 16
9:00AM-5:30PM   5th Annual Spicewood Chess Tournament 

Tuesday, November 19
6:30-7:00 PM   5th Grade Choir Concert
Please join us in the cafeteria as our 5th grade will perform an awesome concert to families and community. 


Thursday, November 21
5:30-8:30PM A Night of Pastabilities- Westwood HS Silent Auction
Westwood HS Class of 2015 would like to cordinally invite the community to "A Night of Pastabilities." It is a spaghetti dinner and silent auction to help fund the Westwood Jr/Sr Prom. For more information, please visit Westwood HS website

Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29
Thanksgiving Holiday
School is closed for students and staff.